Board of Regents
James B. Milliken
President Milliken briefs regents on Campaign for Nebraska success
Although the Campaign for Nebraska has reached its original $1.2 billion goal well ahead of schedule, much work remains to be done before the campaign officially ends in 2014, NU President James B. Milliken told regents during their June meeting.
Campaign priorities include: student scholarships, faculty support, global engagement, agriculture and life sciences, information technology and business, cancer research and care, architectural engineering and construction, water for food, and early childhood education. These priorities have clearly resonated with donors, Milliken said, given the generous gifts that have been received during the campaign, including gifts to establish the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, Buffett Early Childhood Institute and Paul F. Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program; gifts to support the College of Public Health, College of Nursing, Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, and Mammel Hall, home of the College of Business at UNO; and more.
The campaign has created 1,224 new student support funds, 1,378 new academic program support funds, and 110 new faculty support funds, among other successes. Some 80,000 individuals and organizations have contributed.
However, a number of areas have yet to be funded, Milliken noted, including some of the original campaign priorities as well as some new priorities that have emerged in recent years, such as campus development projects, the Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNMC, distance education, rural development and others.
“We are not taking a bow,” Milliken said. “We are going to continue for the next 30 months with the same emphasis, the same energy that we’ve had over the last few years.”
Report from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents: June 2012
2012-13 operating budget includes lowest tuition increase since 1997
Continuing its commitment to affordable access for students and families, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents has approved a 3.75 percent tuition increase for the upcoming academic year – the smallest increase in 15 years and the second-lowest in two decades.
Tuition rates were part of the $2.3 billion operating budget approved by the Board during its June meeting. The university’s state-aided budget – a combination of state appropriations and tuition revenue – will total $802 million for 2012-13.
For most resident undergraduates taking a standard course load of 15 credit hours per semester, the tuition increase will amount to about $94 to $116 more per semester, depending on which campus the student attends. For each campus, those increases are lower than the dollar increases at most of the peer institutions.
Need-based financial aid will also increase 3.75 percent next year – ensuring that the students with the highest financial need are not impacted by the tuition increase.
“As the state’s only public university, it is our obligation to provide affordable access to a high-quality education,” said President James B. Milliken. “In the Strategic Framework of the Board, that’s one of the highest priorities, and I think that’s reflected in this budget.”
Milliken noted that the university continues to be a tremendous value for students compared to peer institutions. For 2011-12, tuition and fees were 28 percent below the peer average at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 25 percent below the peer average at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and 19 percent below the peer average at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The tuition increase will not have a significant impact on NU’s position relative to its peers.
Next year’s budget also includes an increase of up to 2.5 percent in the salary pool for faculty and staff outside the collective bargaining units at the Omaha and Kearney campuses. The funds will be distributed on the basis of merit and performance. Faculty salaries at UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical Center continue to lag behind peer averages.
“We are competing regionally and nationally for the best talent,” Milliken said.
The university will need to make $2.2 million worth of reallocations for the coming year. This comes on top of $74 million in budget reallocations since 2000. State support for university operations has been essentially flat for five consecutive years – not a sustainable model, Milliken said, if the university is to ensure moderate and predictable tuition increases while also investing in strategic priorities such as compensation for top talent, financial aid, and outstanding academic programs.
Also during its June meeting, the Board approved the university’s 2013-15 biennial budget request. The request includes modest annual increases to support need-based financial aid, including Collegebound Nebraska, Programs of Excellence, and other basic operating expenses.
The university’s capital funding requests include a new College of Nursing facility in Lincoln – NU’s highest capital priority in the Legislature for the past two biennia – and renovation of the military property on Military Avenue that was recently acquired by UNL in order to consolidate computing staff in one location.
Board of Regents approves ‘employee plus one’ proposal
During its June meeting, the Board of Regents approved a proposal to expand eligibility for participation in the university’s benefits program to include employees’ same- and opposite-sex partners.
The new policy, referred to as “employee plus one,” takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. The university will extend eligibility for coverage to an “adult designee” who shares an employee’s household and with whom the employee is financially interdependent; family coverage will include the adult designee and his or her dependent children. Extended benefits will include health, dental and vision insurance, sick and bereavement leave and eligibility for the Dependent Scholarship Program.
The plus-one policy addresses equity, competitiveness and other issues, President James B. Milliken said.
“It’s clear to me that this is important for competitiveness purposes,” Milliken said. “There is a more important reason. It is the right thing to do treat employees equitably and to not discriminate against some of our employees.”
All Big Ten universities provide partner benefits, as do a majority of NU peer institutions. A number of leading private sector companies, including ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific, Peter Kiewit & Sons, Mutual of Omaha, Ameritas, HDR and Baird Holm, also provide partner benefits.
The plus-one plan had generated support from all four NU chancellors, all four faculty senates and student governments, and the university-wide benefits committee.
The Board was initially briefed on the plus-one proposal last October, allowing more than seven months for comments and questions from members of the public. In that time, the university also obtained a legal opinion at the Board’s request demonstrating that the plus-one plan is constitutional. The opinion, from Omaha law firm Fraser Stryker PC LLO, found that the plan does not reference a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar same-sex relationship; that it does not confer any of the traditional rights of marriage upon plan participants; and that the majority of courts in other states have upheld public employer benefit plans providing benefits to same-sex couples.
Extended benefits are expected to cost between $750,000 and $1.5 million. Total costs for the university’s health insurance plan are more than $120 million. Extended benefits will require a $1- to $3-per-month increase in employee health insurance premiums.
NU making significant progress in global engagement
The University of Nebraska is experiencing significant success in global engagement, the result of a focused, strategic plan outlined several years ago by President James B. Milliken, the Board of Regents learned during a briefing at its June meeting.
“We realize, as do most other leading universities, that we have to be engaged at the student and faculty and institutional level globally in order to be competitive, and to provide our students with the kind of education that they need to be in business, to be in civic life, to be citizens in the 21st century,” Milliken said.
Milliken’s overarching goals for global engagement are:
In working to achieve those goals, the university has identified key thematic areas in which to pursue international partnerships, said Tom Farrell, vice provost for global engagement. Those areas – including water, agriculture, early childhood education, medicine and public health – are strengths for the university as well as areas of critical importance for Nebraska and the world.
NU also has identified targeted countries with which to collaborate – countries that share the university’s priorities and with whom the university can forge mutually beneficial collaborations. These countries are Brazil, India and China.
Recent successes for the university include:
In briefing the Board, Farrell was joined by three panelists who shared their unique perspectives on the benefits of global engagement. Panelists were: John Gates, Harold & Esther Edgerton Assistant Professor in the UNL Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Gabriel Vasconcelos Pereira, a Science Without Borders student studying biotechnology and molecular biology at UNO; and Christopher Danford, a UNMC medical student who earned the prestigious title of Fulbright Fellow to Brazil last year.
During its June meeting, the Board of Regents: